Today we have two questions from two readers, but they’re along the same lines.
First, Faye asks,
I am immigrating to the US soon, and I am contemplating on going to part-time law school at a not so reputable law school while I also work full time.
Is it worth it? It has always been my dream to become a lawyer.
I am working out ways not to pay my law school tuition, books, and
miscellaneous needs for studying like bar prep so that I will not accumulate debt. Plus, I’m already frugal.
Is it worth going after your dream with the possibility of getting a job at a legal aid office or prosecutor/public defender office? I am not after the money when I become a lawyer really.
What are your suggestions?
Then Jessica asks,
I work full time as an epidemiologist at my state health department. Last year, my husband lost his job and he was out of work for 6 months. We did okay because we’re frugal and live below our means. He started a job in March, also with the state, and he enjoys it so far. However, due to budget cuts, my job was
changed. I no longer have any interest or passion for what I do. We have a 19 month old daughter, and it pains me every day to leave her at daycare.
We do want more children. I’m breastfeeding (very, very frugal!), and my fertility hasn’t returned yet (think of what I’m saving on tampons, Midol, chocolate cravings!), so it will be a good year probably until we’d be having another baby. So anyway, I earn more than my husband does- and I have, for the past 5 years. We’re 29 years old, and we own a home (well, we have a mortgage). We do not have any other debt. This summer we’ll be paying cash for a “new” used car.
Okay, I really do have a question coming up here! See, I really want to be a stay at home mom. Yes I have a masters degree and am a professional in my job. But I hate it. It is stressing me out. I would love to walk out the door right now. We’re aggressively saving money and we live well below our means. How can I convince my husband that we could, indeed live on his income of roughly $50,000 a year after we have a second baby?
The issue at the heart of both of these questions is the same. Is it worth it to go after a dream, when there’s not a big (or any) financial payoff? And if it is, how do you get your spouse on board?
I believe in following your dreams, as long as it’s the responsible thing to do.
To Faye I would say, it sounds like you have a good plan. I think if you can go after your dream without accumulating debt, and you are willing to live on a lower than average income, go for it! Just be aware that some of the pitfalls of having a lower income are possibly not being able to afford a home or other nice things you may want.
Since you’re already frugal, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with this. Best wishes with your chosen career path.
Jessica’s situation is more complicated, because there is a spouse involved. I obviously believe it’s worth it to be a stay at home mom, even when your household income is under $50,000, because I’ve been doing it for over 10 years.
Jessica, I can’t guarantee that your husband will ever be on board, but there are some things you can do to make him feel better about what you want to do. First, sit down with him and have a frank talk about your hopes and dreams. Tell him why you want to be a stay at home mom.
Then ask him if he’d agree to a trial run. No, I don’t think you should quit your job right away. You say it’s going to be another year or so before you have another baby. Try to live on his salary until then. Use your salary to pay for things like daycare and other expenses you won’t have if you’re a stay at home mom. But for everything else, use his income.
With the rest of your income, you can build up a good emergency fund, sock away a nice retirement plan, start planning for your children’s educations, or even pay off your mortgage early. Since you have no debt other than your mortgage, you’re in a good position to be a stay at home mom, if you can come to an agreement.
By taking a trial run at living on your husband’s salary, you can see if you’re both willing to make the sacrifices necessary to give up your income. If your husband doesn’t come around, perhaps you could negotiate to take a job that will let you be at home more than you are now.
Marriage is full of give and take, and if you’re open and honest with your spouse, hopefully you’ll be able to work out a solution you can both live with.
Best wishes to both of you!
And now I’ll turn it over to the readers. What do you think? Should Faye pursue her dream of becoming a lawyer? Do you have suggestions for what Jessica could do to make her dream of being a stay at home mom a reality? I’d love to hear your ideas!